PRISTINA, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- The U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said Monday that it would start this week its biggest staff reduction, nine years after its deployment to govern the territory devastated by the 1998-99 war.
"In the next few days UNMIK staff will be downsized and receive notifications that their contracts are terminated," UNMIK spokesman Alexander Ivanko said in a statement.
Ivanko said the process will start with those already at the end of the contract. It is not known how many U.N. personnel will leave Kosovo in the first phase.
The "U.N. Mission in Kosovo will be cut down by about 70 percent," he said.
The process is expected to last for some months with most authorities transferred to the Kosovo government.
Limited authorities in justice and police areas are reserved for EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) which is fiercely opposed by Belgrade and local Serbs in Kosovo.
It is estimated in Pristina that the process of the reconfiguration of UNMIK, accompanied by the adequate reduction in the number of staff, should be completed by December this year at the latest.
UNMIK is the biggest civil U.N. Mission deployed in a territory. Its first task was to help rebuild the demolished territory from the war and facilitate institution building.
UNMIK has a passive position concerning Pristina's unilateral declaration of independence in February, but it is still operating on the ground according to the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 in 1999.